Third Year Sports Therapy Student Travels To Istanbul For European Championships

How did you get involved with this placement?

I first got involved with this placement back in February, when I responded to an email requesting students to conduct fitness testing for the England Amputee Football Team. Upon my response I found I was already familiar with the Head Coach as I had gained experience working with him on my placement at the Lancashire FA with deaf and partially sighted futsal players. I travelled down to Crewe that same weekend, then continued travelling down to Crewe from Preston for the monthly training weekends.

What was involved in the placement leading up to you traveling abroad with them?

My role within the team was predominantly elements of Strength and Conditioning/Exercise based. However, I did also gain some clinical practice in the build-up to the Championships. Responsibilities of my role included leading the team warm-ups before each session, conducting fitness testing, presenting results of testing back to the coaching staff, soft tissue management, pitch-side first aid and providing additional information regarding injury prevention/diet and gym based plans. For example, I attended the FMA conference in May and the following weekend I was with the team, so a task of mine was to prepare a presentation on developing resiliency/robustness in our athletes and to feedback any other key points from the conference.

How did this opportunity come about?

I was excited, apprehensive and was not quite sure what to expect before heading into the tournament. The goal of the team was to go there and win the tournament so from day 1 there was an element of high pressure upon myself to perform well. However, my clinical educators provided me with the opportunity to develop my confidence in a variety of ways. I was told from the beginning of the week that I would be given the lead responsibility with a number of tasks and my clinical educators would be there to simply oversee that I was practising in a safe manner. I was given the lead role in the delivery of the team’s warm-ups/cool-downs, hydrotherapy sessions and prehab sessions. It was my responsibility to speak with the players in the morning to obtain any information of who was carrying any knocks or injuries, I would then need to feed this back to my clinical educators and devise a plan or timetable for treatment. This was whilst consistently employing my injury management skills on a daily basis by carrying out subjective/objective assessments, developing treatment plans, and performing hands-on skills such as special tests/manual therapy/STM.

If you could go back, would you change anything about the placement or the experiences you had?

The only thing I would change if I could would be the timing of the placement, it was at the beginning of the academic year and in the medical team our average working day kept us busy for 16 hours. So I knew that I would be falling behind with assignment and proposal deadlines. However, to make sure I didn’t fall too far behind, we maintained additional clinical work practice in the evening with my clinical educators after treatment sessions and team meetings. The long days were gruelling and there were times where I was working under a lot of pressure, but I loved every minute of the trip. The facilities we had access to were incredible, staying at the Turkish Football Federation Complex. The only other thing I would change of course would of been to have won in the final that night in Istanbul!

What was it like delivering a warm up in front of thousands of fans?

Leading the warm-up in front of 40,000 Turkish fans in the stadium was incredible and it’s definitely a moment I will never forget. I was amazed by the shear hostility and compassion of the fans who filled the Besiktas stadium that night. I also had to think about how I was going to present the warm-up as I couldn’t hear myself speak let alone what the players must have heard. However, I benefited from employing the same routine before every game during the tournament, this way the players knew exactly what they were doing through each stage of the warm-up with the prehab, mobiliser and stretching.  Overall the opportunity was amazing, it gave me a potential insight and some great inspiration for my future career as a Graduate Sports Therapist.